MariaOrtega, 15, and her son, Miguel, decorate sugar cookies on Feb. 12 at a meetingfor teenage parents participating in the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers Program.In Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Christina Good Voice)

Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Schools offer new Head Start

BY CHRISTINA GOODVOICE
02/25/2010 07:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Public Schools are partnering to offer an Early Head Start class for children of teen parents attending Tahlequah High School. The class is set to begin this spring at THS.

The class will care for nearly 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 years. THS will provide the on-campus facility, while the tribe will provide staff and other necessities.

The facility will be located in the same building as the Tahlequah Central Academy, an alternative education program where many teen parents attend classes.

“Tahlequah Public Schools is excited to be partnering with the Cherokee Nation Head Start to expand their program to serve our students who are teen parents,” said TPS Assistant Superintendent Billie Jordan. “We have recognized the need for this program for years and have searched for ways to provide this service so that teen parents can attend school and at the same time learn hands-on parenting skills while their babies receive quality child care.”

Laura Baltazar, 19, said she’s excited the class is nearly open because it would give her peace of mind knowing her children, 3-year-old Elder and 7-month-old Eyzel, would be cared for.

“It’ll be easier because they’ll just be right there,” she said.

Bethany McDonald, who is with the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers at Central Academy, said the class would also allow parents to ease their minds about paying for daycare.

Baltazar said she pays $400 a month for daycare, but with the class she can start saving that money.

“This will help save a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of young moms, we want to come to school but we have our babies.”

McDonald, who works daily with the teen parents on parenting skills, said she sees the class as removing an obstacle to their learning.

“I see a great way for our (OPAT) program to partner with the Head Start,” she said. “I see it merging so well. We’re going to be able to have better access to our teen moms. They’re going to be right here.”

Some teen moms said the class would also help them be able to concentrate more on school if they know their babies are in good hands. Maria Ortega, 15, said she’ll be able to focus better once the Head Start opens because her 10-month-old son Miguel will down the hall.

“It’s going to be easier,” she said. “He’ll be closer to me.”

Principal Chief Chad Smith said the CN created the program to be a good partner in the community, to keep teenage parents in school to finish their educations and get the fathers of the children involved in the children’s lives.

“Through establishing this partnership with the school, we can help provide a way for the students to continue their education, which in turn will help the community,” he said.

Tribal and school officials agreed that students have a better chance of attending college or another form of post-secondary education upon graduation from high school.

Doing so will help the students better provide for their family later, Jordan said.

“There is so much research showing what an effective program it is anyway and how well those babies do in school,” she said. “If we want to talk about really overcoming poverty, Head Start is a great way.”

Education

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
09/22/2014 08:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Hailey Baskeyfield, 10, is a fourth grader at Jackson Elementary School in Norman. She was born with severe health problems causing her to have scoliosis of the spine, as well as missing some ribs, vertebra and part of her brain. She was also declared blind at 6 months old. She started learning Braille when she was 2 years old. Since then she’s learned other languages in Braille and speech, one of those languages being Cherokee. Tami Baskeyfield, Hailey’s grandmother, said Hailey was chosen at her school as a child with potential to learn languages at a fast pace. “Cedric Sunray began teaching her Cherokee, and what they did was they puff painted the syllabary and symbols,” she said. “She learned to read them by touch. He worked with her most of the school year, but only once a week. She took to it very quickly.” With Hailey’s knowledge of Cherokee, she began entering language competitions, one of those being the 2014 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. At the competition, Hailey told judges the Cherokee names of different objects she picked up from a table located on stage. After that she was instructed to go to the Braille writer, which is the equivalent of a typewriter, and typed specific Cherokee words. Then she went to a basket of index cards that had Cherokee syllables in Braille on them and named 40 of the 86 syllables before running out of time. Tami said after Hailey won the competition she was able to give the Braille writer its Cherokee name. “It was put through a panel of linguistics and approved,” she said. “My understanding is theoretically in 150 years from now if they’re talking about the Braille writer in Cherokee, the name she gave it is what it will be called. She named it ‘My Mommy’s Baby.’” Hailey said she named the Braille writer “My Mommy’s Baby” because she thought it was “pretty cool.” Aside from competing in Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, Hailey has competed in the Oklahoma Braille Challenge, is a part of her school’s Gifted and Talented program and Indian Education Program and is a straight-A student. Tami said she is proud of her granddaughter, but believes “proud” does not even begin to explain how she feels about the challenges Hailey has overcome. “I’ve had her since birth, and I’ve seen the challenges that she’s been faced with and has overcome,” she said. “I see everything from day one to now and proud is such a wimpy word. It just doesn’t give justice to my feelings for her and what she’s accomplished. It’s beyond pride. I tell her all the time how proud I am and it just seems to always feel like it falls short of what is real.” The Cherokee syllabary in Braille is a new form to the language. Aside from Hailey and Sunray, the Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative are working to help establish the Braille syllabary. Roy Boney, Cherokee Nation language program manager, said he has been working with the group to help get this new form of the Cherokee language available. “There’s a system called Unicode, which that’s the digital system that governs how languages are used on computers. Cherokee is in that system. And what they do is they go through and they ensure that every language that’s been encoded into the Unicode has a Braille equivalent,” he said. “So they got to Cherokee and saw that we didn’t have a Braille version and they wanted to make one.” With the Cherokee syllabary now available in a Braille format, the raised print can now be readily made using special printers. “It’s neat to see that the Cherokee syllabary has gone through all these changes, not really changes, but it adapts to every type of writing technology there is and this is another form of that for literacy,” he said. For more information about the Cherokee syllabary in Braille, visit <a href="http://www.cbtbc.org/cherokee" target="_blank">www.cbtbc.org/cherokee</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/08/2014 10:19 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Gov. Mary Fallin recently appointed Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick to serve on the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education. Walkingstick will serve on the 18-member council to make recommendations to the state board of education and the state superintendent of schools on issues affecting Native American students. “It truly is an honor to receive this appointment from Gov. Fallin. I thank my parents, elders, coaches, custodians and others who were all hands on deck in my life every day at Woodall and Tahlequah Sequoyah. They instilled the value of education at an early age,” Walkingstick said. “The Cherokee Nation has an extensive history of promoting education and culture, and there is proven research that cultural inclusion, which is Native language and culture-enriched curriculum, boosts test scores. It’s very important that our Native American students walk in both worlds.” Walkingstick serves as the federal programs director for Muskogee Public Schools, overseeing federal funding and compliance for the school district. Walkingstick is also a former teacher and athletic director for Bell Elementary School in Adair County. “David Walkingstick is a dedicated educator and mentor to students,” Fallin said. “He has been heavily involved in Cherokee Nation issues through his work on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.” Walkingstick graduated from Sequoyah High School in 1999 and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and a master’s degree in school administration from East Central University in Ada. He has served on Tribal Council since 2011. He was also named a 2013 “Native American 40 Under 40” recipient by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/27/2014 12:54 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Northeastern State University’s College of Liberal Arts are collaborating to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Cherokee Constitution. There will be a celebratory symposium at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 28 at NSU-Tahlequah’s University Center Ballroom. The Cherokee Nation Color Guard will kick off the event. Following, there will be panels discussing the history of the tribe’s 1839 Constitution. Keynote speaker, Dr. Miriam Jorgensen, will speak during lunch. Jorgensen is a lecturer for both University of Arizona and Harvard University’s Executive Education programs in Native American Leadership. She also works at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University as an adjunct professor in Community Development with American Indian Communities. For more information, email Dr. Diane Hammons at <a href="mailto: hammonsa@nsuok.edu">hammonsa@nsuok.edu</a>.
08/11/2014 12:23 PM
BY STAFF REPORTS TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Indian Youth Wrestling organization based in Tahlequah is selling T-shirts to raise money for club expenses such as new singlets and equipment. Cost per shirt is $15 plus $5 for shipping, with an additional option to donate more. The organization’s goal is to sell 50 shirts by Aug. 15. Customers should receive their shirts in the mail around Aug. 29. To place an order, go to the booster.com website and search for IYW or type in <a href="http://www.booster.com/iyw" target="_blank">www.booster.com/iyw</a> to be taken directly to the ordering page. Booster.com will ship anywhere around the world. The organization has set out to provide its children with a strong work ethic, resilience and a sense of responsibility for their own destiny as well as lasting inner-strength and confidence. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/IndianYouthWrestling/info" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/IndianYouthWrestling/info</a> or email Jillian Girty at <a href="mailto: jillian.girty@cn-bus.com">jillian.girty@cn-bus.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/10/2014 08:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Applications are being taken by Cherokee Nation Career Services to fill open slots for the 2014 fall semester Registered Nurse Scholarship Program. Applications will continue to be taken until all openings are filled. Applicants must already be accepted to an associate of applied science in nursing degree program and currently enrolled full time in their respective program. Students attending private and/or proprietary schools such as Tulsa Tech, ITT, University of Phoenix and Brown Mackie are also not eligible to apply. Students needing to meet general education requirements as well as students pursuing a bachelor’s of science in nursing and/or master’s of science in nursing should contact the College Resource Center for funding assistance at 918-453-5465. For questions or to request an application, email RN Scholarship Manager Jan Grogan at <a href="mailto: jan-grogan@cherokee.org">jan-grogan@cherokee.org</a> or call 918-207-3873.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/20/2014 08:44 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On May 13, six students graduated from the Cherokee Nation Immersion Charter School. The graduating sixth graders are the third class to graduate from the school, where students speak only Cherokee while they learn grade level state standard curriculum. The students also learn to read and write the 86-character Cherokee syllabary. “We’re making history every day with these children, since there are very few programs out there we can compare to in terms of bilingual education and preservation of a native language,” Principal Holly Davis said. “These students are doing something very unique so that our next generation will carry on our tradition and language.” The graduating students are Liam McAlpin, Alexis Kelley, Hondo Kirk, Sinihele Rhoades and Daylon Dunn, all of Tahlequah, and Solomon Winn of Briggs. “Now I can talk to most of the elders, and they’re really happy when I talk to them in Cherokee,” Rhoades said. “It’s good for them to know that people are still trying to learn the language and keep it alive.” Kelley said she shares what she learns with her family. “My mom is always asking me to teach her, and I think it’ll be fun to teach others, too,” she said. The school also graduated 10 kindergarten students in an earlier ceremony on May 13. Those students will start the first grade at the immersion school this fall while the graduating sixth-grade class will takes courses on the Sequoyah School campus.